Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Eighties nights ...

The Jewel In The Crown / Your Cheatin' Heart / Wish Me Luck

How did I ever miss THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN back in 1984? Well, I was moving around and out a lot .... This 14 part series is one of the best British television productions ever, up there with BRIDSHEAD REVISITED. It is a fascinating saga of the British in India in the 1940s, as adapted from Paul Scott's four novels "The Raj Quartet". 
The British Raj: though their position seems secure, thoughtful English men and women know that "their" time in India is coming to an end. The story begins with an unjust arrest for rape, and the consequences of this echo through the series. Questions of identity and personal responsibility are explored against a background of war and personal intrigue.

Television moved at a slower pace then, long scenes unfold, which would be edited quickly now, and we have time to take in all the details of the many strands of narrative and all that fascinating scenery. The first two-hour episode draws one in, as one wants to see what develops between Daphne Manners, new in India and local boy Hari Kumar (Susan Wooldridge and Art Malik) and that rather sadistic army man Ronald Merrick (superlative Tim-Pigott Smith, who died recently).  After episode three, the story changes gear and we follow the aftermath. The casting again is the thing here. with a great array of British thespians: 
Peggy Ashcroft superb as ever as Barbie, Geraldine James, Judy Parfitt (in superbitch mode), wonderful Fabia Drake and Rachel Kempson, Anna Cropper, Rosemary Leach, Wendy Morgan, and good to see veteran Marne Maitland too, from all those 1950s films. plus Charles Dance, Warren Clarke and Eric Porter among the huge cast. 
We are now half-way through this 14-episode saga, seeing an episode a night. Bring them on, Directed by Christopher Morahan and Jim O'Brien.
More India coming up too: I never saw Lean's A PASSAGE TO INDIA then either, I can record it tonight - more Dame Peggy and Malik and that great cast in Lean's Indian epic, which has to be seen finally. 

YOUR CHEATIN' HEART: We loved this six-episode series back in 1990, its quirky and off the wall. Super to get it on dvd now, as we return to that late 80s country music scene in Scotland, with a young Tilda Swinton and John Gordon Sinclair, with great music from Eddi Reader. Ken Stott shines too, as we follow the misadventures of Cissie Crouch (Tilda) and Frank McClusky as they go on the run from some weird gangsters .... its full of Scottish humour, as written by John Byrne and directed by Michael Whyte.

WISH ME LUCK. More conventional stuff - another series of wartime resistance in Occupied France, as the plucky Brits parachute in female volunteers to help the Allies defeat the Hun. This ran from 1987 to 1990, three series. Cool Kate Bufffery is marvellous the main character Liz, with rather annoying Susannah Hamilton as the annoying Matty, 
Jane Asher is perfect of course as Faith Ashley, running the department back in London, with Julian Glover, and another agent is young Jeremy Northam. Warren Clarke is the German commandant who begins to suspect ......  We get thrill and spills as the agents try to keep ahead of the Germans, as the those radio broadcasts have to get made .... who will get caught? The 40s period flavour is well done,.


  1. Glad you're finally catching up with The Jewel In The Crown. It is such a magnificent series, one of the best ever made in my opinion. Enjoy! I have never seen the other two you mention, will have to keep an eye out as they sound well worth a watch. Maddy

  2. Did you know that THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN is the only series/programme in the history of the BAFTAs in which all 4 best actress nominees came from the same series? Peggy won, by the way. Yes, arguably the best thing ever on British telly.